At a packed October launch event, the 1 November 2004 launch date for the new ‘one stop shop’ Advertising Standards Authority was confirmed. We report, explain the alphabet soup of BASBOF, AAC, CAP (Broadcast) etc and look at some interesting new system numbers.
Topic: Self regulation
Who: The Advertising Standards Authority ("ASA"), Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance ("BASBOF") and CAP (Broadcast) ("CAP(B)")
When: October 2004
At an event entitled "The ABC of Advertising Standards" the ASA officially announced that the doors of its new, one stop shop for processing UK ad complaints were opening on Monday 1 November 2004. As reported previously on marketinglaw, the new system has been in gestation for five years in all, but plans accelerated two years ago when the new super regulator Ofcom (at that time with "virtual" status only) gave its support to the concept.
The essence of the scheme is that Ofcom is delegating its duty to maintain TV and radio ad codes and process broadcast ad complaints. The direct code responsibility will be shouldered by CAP(B) whilst the complaint handling job will be handled by the ASA.
The scheme will be financed not out of public funds but by the ad industry itself. This will happen by way of a levy of 0.1% on all broadcast advertising spend, collected through media agencies by the Broadcast Advertising Standards Board of Finance ("BASBOF").
Independent advice to CAP(B) on broadcast advertising issues will be provided by a currently being formed Advertising Advisory Committee ("AAC") and there will be an "independent review" process for those who are unhappy with ASA decisions about TV or radio ads. This will be similar to the current review procedure available for non broadcast ads and handled by Sir John Cains, the Independent Reviewer. As with non broadcast ads, this will only be available where either the ASA decision can be shown to result from a "substantial flaw of process" or additional relevant evidence becomes available.
Amongst some interesting numbers revealed at the launch event were the following:
5,600 complaints received by the ASA so far this year have had to be passed on to the ITC as they related to TV or radio ads. All this will come to an end on 1 November except for complaints about sponsorship, ad minutage or scheduling, which will still be handled by Ofcom;
£6 million is the amount raised currently each year to meet the cost of the ASA system for non broadcast advertising;
£3 and a half to 4 million is the current estimated total to be raised by the new broadcast ad BASBOF levy, so…
£10 million is the estimated total annual cost of the new one stop shop system;
702 ads were changed or stopped after ASA action in 2003;
1440 ads have met the same fate so far this year;
40% of complaints to the ASA are now initiated online;
9 ASA Council members will consider complaints about both broadcast and non broadcast ads, joined by …
3 ASA Council members who will only consider broadcast ad complaints and..
3 ASA Council members who will only consider non broadcast ad complaints;
29 days is the current average time the ASA takes to process non broadcast ad complaints;
25 days is the target turnround time for 2005;
76% of broadcast ad complaints requiring a "standard investigation" as opposed to a complex investigation are currently turned round by Ofcom in 8 weeks;
one month is the target turnround time for ASA processing of all but the most complex of broadcast ad complaints;
3 ASA senior officials including the Chair will sit on a panel tasked with deciding whether in urgent cases a broadcast ad should be pulled immediately pending the outcome of the normal Council adjudication process.
Why this matters:
The ASA has moved very quickly and efficiently to prepare the way for the new system and to cap it all will be moving into new premises in High Holborn literally the weekend before the 1 November launch. Marketinglaw has previously been sceptical as to whether the ambitious launch timetable would be met and it now has to eat its words, apologise to the ASA for its previous scepticism and wish the body all the very best for a smooth introduction of what is possibly a world first for advertising self regulation.